On my shelf is a copy of Kanye West's CD "Graduation." I've never listened to it, not even once, but I had several good reasons for buying it.
First, I bought "Late Registration" and thought it was quite good. It was expansive and ambitious and sounded like nothing else in hop hop at the time. And he sampled Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds are Forever." How cool is that? So it was reasonable to assume that West's next album would be good, too. Perhaps it is.
But the real reason I bought "Graduation" was to force rapper 50 Cent into retirement. You see 50 promised his album "Curtis" would outsell "Graduation." If it didn't, 50 promised to retire. I think 50 Cent is a no talent hack, so $15.99 seemed a small price to pay to keep the man from putting out any more albums.
As it turned out, I wasn't the only person to think this way, and "Graduation" handily outsold "Curtis." With that mission accomplished, I somehow forgot to listen to the album. (It got middling to good reviews.)
So it's somewhat ironic that today I made my second spite-based musical purchase and the target of my spite was none other than Kanye West.
It started when I was watching Stephen Colbert on Monday. He was complaining that the soundtrack for his Christmas special was ranked 15th on iTunes, while Kanye West's newest album was on top. Colbert read West's latest quote where the rapped dubbed himself the "voice of a generation" and declared that West needed to be taken down a peg. (Of course, Colbert would also be taken up a few pegs in the process.)
Members of the Colbert Nation were asked to buy the Colbert Christmas soundtrack at 5 PM EST on Wednesday to help knock Kanye out of the top spot and vault Colbert to number one. It was called, "Operation Humble Kanye."
While I don't know if I count as a member of the Nation, I decided to buy the album at the appointed time. After all, I may have been partially responsible for West's big ego in the first place, what with helping him win his feud with 50 Cent and all.
By the appointed purchase time, Britney Spears had already knocked Kanye West off the top spot in the iTunes album rankings, so there's a chance Kanye was already duly chastised. But Colbert fans did manage to vault his Christmas album to the #3 spot and knock West to #4.
But this time, I decided not to repeat the mistakes of the past and actually listen to the album that spite bought me.
Cobert's Christmas album is a companion to the TV show, which is essentially a spoof of star studded Christmas spectaculars of the '60s an '70s. Most songs are sufficiently funny and feature guest stars like Toby Keith, Feist, and John Legend. But for me, it's all about Elvis Costello.
Costello and Colbert end the special with a song called, "There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In." It's indented to be silly, but it might actually be... well... a good song. Perhaps I'm blinded by Elvis Costello. I'll admit, he could sing the phone book and it would probably move me to tears. But he sings this joke song with such gusto that it starts to come off as sincere.
And in this era of waining faith, "There Are Much Worse Things..." may actually be the perfect anthem of the times. Nice work, boys.